Winnetka Affordable Housing Plan Draws Cheers, Jeers

WINNETKA, Ill. (CBS/WBBM) — It was standing room only Tuesday night as the village board discussed an affordable housing plan in the upscale North Shore suburb of Winnetka.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Regine Schlesinger reports, affordable housing has been a contentious issue in the wealthy community, where the median price of a home exceeds $1 million.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Regine Schlesinger reports

The plan calls for setting aside 15 percent of new developments for lower-income families, although the threshold for “lower-income” in Winnetka is far higher than in most places.

The Village Plan Commission says the goal is to provide more housing for families of four or more who earn less than $105,000 a year.

Village president Jessica Tucker said she did not want the suburb to become another community of “McMansions,” the Chicago Tribune reported. Other supporters say the goal is to help young families and recent college graduates, the newspaper reported.

Supporters also say an affordable housing plan would simply allow those who work in Winnetka to live there and possibly retire there.

“I’ve read their plan rather quickly, and it seems like it’s pretty much common sense,” Winnetka resident James Fargo told CBS 2.

But an opponent called it “social engineering” that would interfere with the housing market, and called for a voter referendum, the Tribune reported.

Opponents also say there is no reason why someone who works in the community must live there.

In a Chicago Tribune report late last month, the plan was deemed “un-American” by the Winnetka Homeowners Association, which claimed it would lower property values, draw crime, and subsidize those who are dependent on “handouts.”

The newspaper quoted Homeowners Association chairman Carry Buck as saying there are plenty of affordable housing options in other communities in the area, and she characterized the affordable housing plan as a government overreach in a community she called mostly conservative.

Six years ago, Winnetka residents voted for home rule, to avoid compliance with state-mandated affordable housing rules.

  • Guy at Work

    I saw no to affordable housing in Winnetka. This concept defeats the purpose of hard work. Many of Winnetka’s residents are hardworking professionals that have invested considerable time and effort into getting themselves educated and advancing their careers. They experience reward by living in an exclusive community. If people want to live there, then they should work towards it. Nobody is stopping them. I just hate the idea that everyone deserves a trophy.

    • Gerald Spencer

      It may defeat the purpose of “hard work” which to many is nothing more than inheritance, and that is okay. If Winnetka does not wish this then Winnetka can have no services or place any job whatsoever within its limits unless than job pays more than a quarter of a million dollars a year. That will be some expensive purchases for Winnetka. Oh, the hard work thing, then no real estate agents need live in Winnetka, like they have hard work. Doesn’;t it make you wonder, what is it that Winnetka people do? What do they work at, that is “hard work?” Hot tar roofing? High steel? Replacing power lines? Sewers? Laying asphalt? What exactly is Winnetka Hard Work?

    • Tim

      Yeah, because people who went to college and got a job earning six figures is obviously so darn lazy … you allow an accountant to move into the neighborhood, and the next thing you know its burned out store fronts, crack dealers, and gangs.

      By the way … what is the reward for living in an exclusive community? Is it saving the rest of the world from interacting with Winnetkans, or is it shutting out the rest of the world? I’m not sure which answer would make me cringe more.

      • TBone

        Tim, the problem is that the folks that live in Winetka, inherited the opportunity to go to the good schools, having tutors for every subject as needed, and then graduating and getting high paying gigs…THEY INHERITED IT. So all I am asking is that since they continue to vote liberally, and do not literally understand the plight of the Section 8 person, who also inherited their problem, to take in a few thousand.

        Have fun & Smile rich people from Winetka! Is Betty still in town?

      • Guy at work


        Accountants that make six figures can easily live in Winnetka. There are affordable two bedroom apartments in the downtown area. Also, what about houses for rent or reasonable townhouses for sale? Winnetka will not become another East St. Louis anytime soon. I’m just opposed to the idea that we have to placate everyone. Since I can’t afford to live in Kenilworth, I’ll look elsewhere like Evanston or Wilmette. Let the market do its thing without forced initiatives from the government.

  • Tim

    This is why people make fun of people from Winnetka: rich, powerful, xenophobic, and socially inept unless it is a polo match or a debutante ball.

  • TBone

    Winetka! You vote so liberally in presidential and state senatorial races, so please put your money where your mouth is, and take in a few thousand Section 8s just as DuPage county has. I can feel your liberal love already! Chicago cannot reduce its crime rate without exporting the problem. Enjoy!

  • Dereck

    Its difficult to tell from this article, but where is the demand for this program? Are there throngs of people saying “I’d love to live in Winnetka, but I only make $25K”

    Is Winnetka so devoid of issues that they have to invent one?

  • Tom

    Next week, i’ll be loading up a bus full of folk from Chicago’s south side. We will heading to Winnetka so they stake out their future homes and vacant lots, where they’ll be dropping a double wide trailer.

  • Tea Party Tom

    Instead of giving handouts, Winnetka should be giving generous tax cuts to these hard-working people who deserve way more than what they will ever get.

    Remember, “wealthy” people like the ones in Winnetka are the ones CREATING opportunities for YOU to get a job.

    If you want a job, then tax cuts for Winnetka is what we really need.

    • Gerald Spencer

      Really? Exactly who is it in Winnetka that is creating jobs in Winnetka? Maids? Lawn care? What jobs are they creating?

  • swizzle

    Winnetka votes Republican so this bigotry and xenophobia is to be expected. They don’t want to mingle with ‘outsiders’ so the easy way to solve this problem is for everyone outside Winnetka to boycott this town. Boycott those who live in this town but work outside it, if they have a business outside of their town then avoid it, close it down and send them back to thier gated community.
    If they don’t want anyone not rich and white there, then lets return the favor and make thier gated community thier prison

  • Dan

    I make 70K a year, am a single parent, and cannot affordto live too large. Can’t afford to live in Winnetka and sure ain’t crying about it either. Why would I want to be the poorest person on the block looked down upon by the more fortunate? My career moves got thrown off track by the current economy and housing bubble but I’m not looking for a handout. Picked myself up, dusted myself off and are forging ahead with new things. If it works out I may want to move to Winnetka, not because I got a hand out but because I can afford it based on my own hard work.

    • Lew


      I wish more people had your attitude. Unfortunately, it’s a lot easier for them to merely state their passive opinion without doing anything to better their situations.

    • Tommy Toughguy

      Great minds think alike. And apparently within minutes of each other!

  • Tommy Toughguy

    As a Winnetka village employee, I would love to live locally. But not with the kind of stigma that would be attached to “mandated afforable housing”. If I decide to live in the village, it will be because I earned my way in through hard work and responsible financial choices, not an assistance program.

  • gangsta-q

    i wants ta get in on dis cause i be lookin ta UPGRADE ya know what im sayinn!!!
    i gots a qustion tho, where do i be ables to cash my SSI checks and do them food stores be takin LINK card?
    i be lookin foward to meetin these white hoez!!!

    • Shi' Thead

      Settle down , Rufus !
      It ain’t done happened yet!

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